Lake Burton

Clayton, Georgia

A bit of history

Burton Georgia was named for Jeremiah Burton, a popular citizen of his time who occasionally served as a bailiff for the local superior court. Throughout the years though he served in many civic positions as well.

Situated on the Tallulah River, Burton, Georgia was a thriving community of approximately 200 people when Georgia Railway and Electric company came knocking and bought the entire town. Once the purchase was complete, shortly after World War One, Georgia Railway and Electric company started the construction of the dam on the Tallulah River in 1917.

The lake

Completion of the dam occurred on December 22, 1919, which slowly started the flooding of the town of Burton. When Lake Burton was finally completed it covered approximately 2,775 acres and 62 miles of shoreline.

It also became one of the first lakes in the United States made strictly for the generation of electrical power.

Though you can find many species of fish in Lake Burton, including:

  • trout
  • walleye
  • crappie
  • catfish
Lake Burton has become very popular for spotted bass. Holding the state record spotted bass of 8 pounds 2 ounces there is a reason for the abundance and growth of the spotted bass.

The main reason was the illegal introduction of the blueback herring in approximately 1990 to Lake Burton as well as many other reservoirs in Georgia. Survey data from the fish hatchery says the the blueback herring first appeared in 1993, leading to speculation that they were first introduced probably in 1990.

Though the blueback herring is helping in the development of trophy spotted bass on Lake Burton, they are the main culprit in the decline of the largemouth bass.

Largemouth bass spawn earlier than spotted bass, usually when the water temperature hits 60 to 65 degrees. They also do this in much shallower water than the spotted bass. Spotted bass spawn when the water temperature is in the 70 to 75 degree range which usually happens a few weeks after the largemouth bass.

Just out of pure coincidence, the blueback herring are in the same shallow waters as the largemouth bass for their spawn at about the same time the bass fry are hatching. The blueback herring feed on these fry as well as plankton when they are in the shallows.

By the time the spotted bass are in there spawn period, which also happens in a little deeper water, the blueback herring have headed out to the deepest parts of the lake and are feeding on plankton at or on the surface. This is one reason why spotted bass feed on the blueback herring; spots have always preyed on open water bait fish.


The best time to catch these trophy spotted bass on Lake Burton is when the surface water temperature is at or near the 58 degree mark.

This is when a stead retrieve with a spinner around boat docks or gravel points in three to eight foot of water can fool the spotted bass traveling between shallow and deep water.

Other successful baits included soft and hard jerk baits because of the way they mimic the blueback herring. You can also have success using crankbaits in the stop and go retrieve or using the same action you do with the jerk baits presentation. You will definitely have better success than just using a steady retrieve.

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